24 Hours with our new Form 1: ''Short Crane"

Hey All!  I Just wanted to share some of the first 24 hours with our new printer.

Short Crane , and her finishing kit arrived last Saturday.  Since then we’d monitored Fedex daily until the resins arrived yesterday evening!  A quick trip to Walgreens, for 2 bottles of 91% IPA  ( 2 / $8 sale!)  I can’t believe I had waited until the last minute, but by luck , my better half was not home yet, so I had time to make it look like I had been prepared all along.

We cleared off a work area, began the un-boxing process, set up the finishing kit, filled the resin tank,  and finally Installed the Preform software on our Sony Windows 8 touch PC.

So, what to print?

Print #1:  The Butterfly Clip

After the software was installed, we decided to print the default file that came with the printer as a test.  We clicked around the software, and found it very intuitive.  We were able to move the piece around the platform, lay it on a side, rotate in x,y,z space, as well as zoom in and around the work area to see fine details of the model.

Once we looked at all the settings, we added automatic supports, and clicked ‘Form’ (Print).

The printer light starts flashing, with a message on the LCD screen asking you to push to confirm print, and once you do, you see the software upload to the printer, and the LCD screen on Short Crane gave an estimated time of about 4 hours 30 minutes, and listed the number of  layers that had been copied from the software.

Short Crane began doing it’s thing (moving the build platform, and rocking the resin tank back and forth) and once the build platform sank into the resin, I watched the resin slowly creep up the sides of the tank until it worried me that it would spill over.  Luckily, I didn’t fill past the line, and no spill occurred.  We watched, video taped, and took pictures of the first few minutes, of the platform dunking into the resin, the green laser dancing around the tank, and the tank rocking the resin back and forth again to prepare the next layers.

For the next few hours, I would check on the print every half hour or so, and it was truly amazing to be able to recognize the support structures and the start of butterfly wings as the platform slowly moved up, revealing what had been invisible submerged in clear resin.

Finally the print was done. It was 3am, and we were excited to see the print, and also to be able to go to bed.  The platform was already all the way up when we walked in the last time to check on the clip.  The platform was in its highest position, exposing the butterfly clip, attached to its support structure. It was glistening, appearing almost wet when we opened the case, removed the platform, and placed it on the finishing tray.  It was more difficult than I thought it would be to get the support off the platform.  I used the included putty knife , and with a little force, the whole thing came off the platform with a pop.  I used the tweezers to grab the supports, fearing that the piece might be soft or tacky, as I’ve read in the forums.  After an initial 2 minute rigorous rinse in IPA, and a subsequent 10 minute soaking, we left the piece to sit over night on a foam pad in the finishing tray (is that what they’re for?) .

The next morning, we tried to remove the piece from the supports, and found that was harder than expected as well.  My buddy happened to be over, and remembered seeing people ‘twist’ a little , rather than ‘pull’, and the supports came off more easily,  We passed the piece around , marveled at the intricacy, and compared it to the model on screen in Preform.  It was perfect, except that the clip piece had fused shut at it’s closest point.  We tried to use an exacto knife to slice around it, and wound up breaking off the bottom part of the clip.  It took an awful lot of force to break it though, again… more than i would have though…

Print #2  ‘The Edge’  3D Kit Bash test chip

I had backed a project called 3D Kit bash on Kickstarter that contained a number of ready to print 3D ‘chips’ that would test a printer’s ability to perform a specific function, like create an edge, a bunch of sharp points,  text in different sizes, bridging, etc…   (They have a new Kickstarter with new and old kits available: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/3dprintertest/3d-printer-test-kit-graphica?ref=live)

I did this print the same way, with all the default settings, and auto-supports.  It was smaller than the butterfly, so after about 2 hours, I had my second print washed and drying in the tray!  I don’t think that I waited long enough for this one to cure, so when I removed the supports, they were a bit stickier, and seemed to leave a bit more flash (is that a term ?) around where they were attached to the base.  I may not have rinsed it well enough either, as it stayed tacky for quite a while.  Surface area, thickness, temperature, humidity , and light could all be factors on how these cure .

The ‘test’ passed with flying colors. Each edge was well defined, the blade was close to sharp, and scraper edge had a nice curve in it, just like the model.

Print #3: Thingiverse!

@Formlabs tweeted us (@stinkykitties, follow us!)  after we posted some pics of our printer when we recieved it.  They told us they expected lots of kitty prints, and we don’t want to disappoint .  We went straight to the search feature on Thingiverse, and found: Cat Scan – Digitized!  An actual cat figurine that was 3D scanned in by the MakerBot people.

After downloading, Preform opened the file, but reported that there were problems with it. Luckily, the software was able to auto-magically fix whatever issues there were, and we had our third print about two hours later, properly bathed, given enough time to dry, and hit with a few minutes of a black light for good measure.

Anyways, it’s late now, and probably more like 32 hours with Short Crane, but you get the idea!

Thanks to everyone who has posted in this forum, and on the Kickstarter page, or tweeted during the wait!


Fantastic write-up, Ray! Thanks for the thoughts! That’s a shame that the butterfly clip didn’t come out perfectly – but it does seem like you’re making some lovely prints. Looking forward to more.